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I’ve never been on a cruise ship before. Although everyone on board said this experience is far from a cruise. You never really had any time to relax. They days were spent taking excursions out to the islands on little boats. Once you completed one trip, another was already in the works. They woke us up early every morning so sleeping in was not an option. They definitely made sure that we’d see a lot. We were told we’d need another vacation after this trip.

The boats we used for getting ashore:

This little apple is suppose to be really poisonous. You can’t even touch it without getting sick.

Land iguanas:

Sea Iguanas:

Iguanas everywhere:

Suckling baby sea lion:

Abandoned baby sea lion:

We also did a lot of snorkeling. No pics, but I thought this was the highlight of the trip. You could swim with the iguanas and sea turtles. Very cool.

H


I continued my iron butt ride in to Ecuador. Really made the custom agent at the border mad because my Spanish is so bad. He was beside himself that I could not speak it fluently. But despite this, I made it to Quito, Ecuador right on schedule, so all is good.

It was time to take a break from riding and jump on a plane and visit the famous Galapagos Islands. Jeanette flew down to meet me in Quito for the experience. After taking a couple of flights to get to the islands, we boarded a ship for a five day boat tour of the islands.

The best way to describe the place is the land that time forgot. A completely untouched preserve where the animals have absolutely no fear of people. You can walk right up to the sea lions, iguanas, and sea turtles. I had to hold back from touching them.

Prior to getting to the islands you are hit with countless taxes and fees. They seemed really excessive. Before you are done you have a little stack of cards and papers. However, once you see the islands and how pristine the place is, everything makes sense. They limit the number of visitors each year. A lot of money is spent on preservation and studying methods to remove introduced goats, rats, plants etc. If they can keep this place from getting spoiled, that would be a very good thing.

The Galapagos islands were exactly the opposite of what I was expecting. As usual, I did no real research. I was expecting lush jungles and palm trees like you’d find in Hawaii. Instead my first impression was I just landed in the Mojave desert. Desert brush and cacti.

Anyway, enough talk, here are some pics:

Got to stay on the path. They were really serious about walking anywhere except on designated trails:

A penguin:

Nice to be transported to someplace so completely remote. This should be an interesting side trip.

H


The southern part of Colombia is really mountainous. The PanAm continuously climbs and descends. Incredible vistas in all directions. A great place to ride.

In one section there were a lot of indigenous people. They had twine wrapped with ribbon laid across the road. The idea here was to get vehicles to slow by raising the twine in front of oncoming traffic. Then they could beg for money. My fear was primarily getting clothes lined by some over anxious youngster. After a while, I realized that they were all pretty harmless. Even if they did try to clothes line me, I would have ripped it out of their hands probably hurting them more than me. I went on my way without incident.

I passed through Pasto looking for a place to stay. There were a ton of sex hotels, but I really didn’t want to stay at one. However, when you think about it, sex hotels are actually really good places to stay, each room has its own locking garage. Anyway, I continue on to Tangua, a tiny town that hugged the side of a mountain. I found a small hotel right across from a police check point. Behind the hotel was a parking area with a locking gate. No way any one would try anything around here.

Trying to determine the price of the hotel proved to be very difficult. I couldn’t make out any number that the kid running the hotel told me so I figured with my limited Spanish I must be missing it. I took out pen and paper and motioned to write down an amount. I only got a blank stare. So I write down an amount instead. He responds with writing “No”. I gesture that he should now write down an amount. Again, blank look. So I write down another amount. Same response, he writes “No”. I repeat until he writes down “Si”. Perhaps I was negotiating the price not knowing it.

I walked around the town after dinner and checked out all the local eating establishments that lined the one street through town. There were a lot of them all right next to one another. What was odd was that they all served exactly the same thing. Fried chicken, beans, some kind of roasted nut and assorted fried pastries. Exactly the same at each place. No variation at all. I mean none. Very strange.

H


Today I continued my iron butt south. I started with riding with the KLR guy I met in Medellin, but his bike was not jetted right for the high altitude. He had trouble passing anybody and simply could not keep up with my state-of-the-art BMW motorcycle, truly a marvel of German engineering… Ok, I have fuel injection, he didn’t. With so many miles to go and a time constraint, I couldn’t hang. Feel a bit bad, but there was no way I was going to make Quito at our speed.

And so the iron butt ride continued…

I passed Cali, and continued on to Popayan in pouring rain. The rain got so bad, I decided to stop for a bit and wait it out at this gas station. The great people here gave me free coffee and advice on where to stay in Popayan.

Later checked out the town a bit.

Nice town.

H


A bit hungover from the night before, I was greeted with my first flat tire. The rear tire picked up a metal screw somewhere.

Fixed with a tire snake in just a few minutes. Not pretty, but it don’t leak:

After the morning fun, I continued on south toward Medellin. Nice twisty mountainous roads. Really nice travelling.

This is a speed limit sign. Now I think Colombia uses kilometers, but the numbers they post are simply ridiculous. You’d be barely moving if you followed them.

Always something burning:

Lots of accidents on the road. One truck flipped over, and another missed a turn and ran straight in to the mountain. Neither seemed like the driver would have walked away. Than I saw two girls on a scooter lose control right in front of me and run off the road and in to the mountain as well. No helmets of course. Stopped to help and give some first aide. They were covered with scrapes and road rash. That’s gotta hurt. After cleaning them up a bit, they both jumped back on the scooter and went on their way.

Finally made it to Medellin and stayed at the Hostel Luna. The owner is on advrider and has a garage for bike parking. Nice view from his roof top as well.

I stayed in Medellin for two days, but still saw a lot less of the city than I should have. Decided to hang back and get some work done. Lots of fires back home needed tending to. Fortunately I was staying very close to the restaurant and bar area so the evenings were a lot of fun. Met another biker here too. Forget his name, but he was on a KLR heading south. He had just completed central America as well.

H

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